It’s been nearly three months since well-known Victoria jazz club owner Hermann Nieweler passed away from complications related to cancer, and those who knew him are now gearing up to celebrate his legacy.
Tom Vickery has been a regular performer at Hermann’s Jazz Club on View Street ever since the music venue opened its doors in 1986. Throughout the years, the pair would often meet for lunch or breakfast, sharing their love of music.
“He was a super nice guy and he loved music. He had a passion for it. He has hired, over the years, amazing musicians who have played at that club,” said Vickery, who will be performing at the club Sept. 17 with the Tom Vikery Trio and Jazz Jam.
“It was a home for the local musicians especially. Everyone felt comfortable playing in that club. He loved to have them and they loved to play there.”
Although he maintained his home in North Vancouver, Nieweler was a regular figure at his jazz club in Victoria, often opening the door to local high school jazz and rhythm-and-blues bands. Some of the young talent he welcomed have flourished in their musical careers, such as Canadian singer Nelly Furtado.
The corner stage in the club has also featured the who’s who of jazz headliners, including Jane Bunnett, Hugh Fraser, Michael Kaeshammer and Renee Rosnes. A young Diana Krall was a frequent performer early in her career as well.
On June 10, Nieweler died at the age of 79 from complications related to cancer – just as the Victoria International Jazz Festival was about to kick off. Vickery was aware Nieweler underwent a kidney transplant in 2010, but thought things were going well since then.
“On a Saturday afternoon, he got up and gave a little speech. After that people sort of thought wow, this kind of sounds like a farewell speech. I think he kind of knew his health was failing, but he never wanted to admit it,” said Vickery, noting Nieweler once flew his twin brother in from Toronto so the pair could do a live recording at the club.
“He had a big heart. He was just a wonderful human being.”
From Sept. 17 to 20, Nieweler’s life will be celebrated with a number of performances at the club, such as Break out West/Rifflandia’s Jazz Showcase and David Vest — who was awarded Maple Blues piano player of the year. Organizers are asking everyone to bring their favourite pictures, memories or objects to share the stories of Nieweler and the club.
— Pamela Roth